As a travel nurse, you can reflect on the amazing experiences that this role has afforded you. However, travel nursing also presents its fair share of stressors and disruptions to your day-to-day routine. Working in a new environment, coupled with the unfamiliarity of services that enable self-care, it's necessary for a travel nurse to engage in proper preparation to overcome these challenges. Here are the “high-five” tips that you should discuss with your travel nurse recruiter to create a wellness plan for when you’re on the road.
Pre-plan Your Health and Wellness Routine
Prior to initiating your assignment, it is important to conduct comprehensive research of the various factors that may impact your ability to stay well. By doing an “online windshield survey” of the community, you can pack appropriate clothing based on the expected weather pattern and make a list of wellness services. Additionally, it is important to have access to nutritious foods. You can work with an expert to develop a wellness plan for any health needs or any health conditions that you are currently managing. Pre-planning your wellness routine is extremely critical, especially since the pandemic has altered the way that many services are offered. Create a standardized checklist that you can utilize for each assignment and discuss your plan with your travel nurse recruiter, as they may have additional information about the assignment and hidden gems in the location that may not be easily found online.
Healthy Eating Habits
As a travel nurse on assignment, you may be in a new environment and unsure of where to access fresh produce and nutritious foods. The reality is that some locations may be facing their own challenges, such as a food desert. This may require you to travel a fair distance to access healthy foods. Because of this, you may choose the easy option of eating fast food. However, a healthy diet will go a long way in keeping your energy up and your body strong. Eating nutritious foods and following a well-balanced diet are key to staying well during an assignment. Choosing meals that are high in fruits and vegetables is essential to maintaining your health and can help boost your immune system—especially when traveling increases your stress levels. It may be useful to research grocery delivery services or meal prep subscription services in the area.
Additionally, you can speak with your healthcare provider about alternative health support, such as the following supplements:
- Melatonin to help with sleeping
Physical Health and Exercise
Staying physically active and getting adequate exercise is a vital part of maintaining your health. As a traveling nurse, incorporating regular movement into your day is one of the most convenient ways to improve your quality of life.
When it comes to exercise, moving to a new location might change your momentum. You can start by researching different options that the new location offers such as gym and group fitness classes. Again, you can speak with the representative from the travel nursing company to see if they are aware of any corporate discounts or initiatives with local fitness companies.
However, the most affordable form of exercise is taking a walk. You can take a few minutes every day to give yourself a break and get the blood flowing, while getting some fresh air and sunlight along the way. Always make physical activity a priority!
Effectively managing your stress levels during a travel nurse assignment has significant impacts on your health and work performance. Being in an unfamiliar environment can often lead to increased amounts of stress, which makes self-care practices more important than ever.
Tap into the self-care practices that you have found to be successful, and don’t be afraid to try different practices that are available in your new location. If you are working with a mental wellness professional such as a therapist, negotiate having their support while you are working your assignment. It will be beneficial to connect with your travel nursing company about any resources on mental support initiatives offered through the company.
Creating a Wellness Network, with fellow Travel Nurses
Building a “mobile community” is a necessity as a travel nurse. This is encouraged to keep your family and other loved ones updated while on assignment. Staying connected can keep you motivated and remind you that you are well supported.
However, building a community with travel nurses adds another unique layer of support.Whether you’re at a different location or organization, it’s your fellow colleagues who can relate to the challenges you are facing during an assignment.
Travel nurses will have a lot of questions, and that is completely normal. Speaking to a fellow travel nurse allows you to receive answers from someone who has “walked a mile in your shoes”. This process is like securing a mentor—it’s not just for the clinical support, but for your wellness journey as well.
With all of these pro-tips for your toolbox, we wish you a successful assignment and remember to stay well! If you're interested in getting in touch with a travel nurse recruiter, let us know and we'd be happy to talk about assignments, and setting you up on a wellness journey roadmap.
Olivia London is a registered nurse with a Masters of Public Health. She works as a nurse consultant, specializing in health promotion and chronic disease management. Olivia is also a freelance writer, with work published on nursing and public health sites.
Covid‐19: Supporting nurses’ psychological and mental health
Maben, J. and Bridges, J. (2020) Covid‐19: Supporting nurses’ psychological and mental health. Journal of Clinical Nursing . Accepted Article.
Is travel nursing for you?
Nursing: January 2005 - Volume 35 - Issue - p 50,52